Towson's talking secession


August 20, 2008|By LAURA VOZZELLA

The Times of London, in a profile of Michael Phelps that ran the other day, described the Olympian's hometown as "the blue-collar mill town of Towson."

This month, the China Daily reported that he hailed from "the mean streets of Baltimore."

So which is it, Hampden or The Wire?

Phelps is from Rodgers Forge, which might fairly be described to a world audience as Towson or Baltimore. But the street scene there isn't especially "street." And there were never any mills, just agriculture and the long-gone forge that gave the neighborhood its name.

Might not make for colorful copy, but the swimming great comes from a place best described today as suburbia.

"Towson was not a blue-collar mill town," said Joseph Coale III, author of a book on the area's farming history, Middling Planters of Ruxton, 1694-1850. "There's no mill near there. There's no stream near there."

Baltimore County spokesman Don Mohler said he'll happily set foreign journalists straight.

"We look forward to inviting them to the grand parade so they can see Towson in all of its full glory," he said.

How would Mohler describe the place?

"I would tell them Towson is simply the center of the swimming universe. Katie Hoff and Michael Phelps - I think there's no doubt."

Mohler noted the suggestion by Sun columnist Peter Schmuck that Towson declare its independence and compete as its own nation. With Phelps' eight gold medals and Hoff's silver and two bronzes, Schmuck wrote Sunday, Towson "would be fourth in gold medals and 12th in the overall medal count."

"In the 2012 Olympics, maybe we'll have the nation of Towson parade in," Mohler said. "I think the Chamber of Commerce as we speak is discussing secession plans."

On Phelps, no evidence, no photos, nothing

Eat, sleep, swim ... canoodle?

London's Daily Telegraph reports on Phelps' alleged love life under this headline: "Michael Phelps' girlfriend: Amanda Beard or Lily Donaldson?"

The piece says the Olympic champ recently has been "linked" to Donaldson, a British model, and Beard, a U.S. swimmer who did not advance to the finals in Beijing but can still brag about her nude Playboy pics.

The newspaper offers no evidence. No grainy photos. No eyewitness accounts. Nothing.

Proof enough for me! Any day now, I expect to see Phelps squiring both gals around his blue-collar mill town.

Messy after-hours dips in Columbia's pools

Maybe it's Phelps Phever. Or the whole Staycation thing. Whatever the reason, somebody out there can't get enough of Columbia Association pools this summer.

"Almost like every day a pool calls and says, 'We got hopped last night,'" said CA aquatics director John Herdson.

After-hours dips can be dangerous because there's no lifeguard around. This year, they're also messy. A misguided Caddyshack fan seems to be among the pool hoppers.

After breaking into the pools, he or she or they leave something behind. Unfortunately, it's not Baby Ruth. It's the real thing.

That's happened a total of three times at the Dasher Green and Hopewell pools alone, said Chad Wilson, head guard at both. He recalled one deposit left on the diving board.

The messes have been confined to the deck area, so they could be cleaned up without having to close the pools to chemically "shock" the water, Herdson said.

Pool partyers also have tossed poolside tables, chairs and umbrellas into the water. Herdson estimated the damage to those items at about $1,000. CA is offering a $100 reward to anyone who helps nab the pool partyers.

Ice Qube crashed the pool party

A vendor at this week's New York International Gift Fair stoops to this:

"Michael Phelps at NYIGF?" reads the subject line of a blast e-mail.

"Michael Phelps will not be at our [booth] at the New York International Gift Fair, sadly," the e-mail itself concedes. "But we will be."

The vendor is Ice-Qube Preparedness Solutions, maker of "premium emergency and disaster preparedness kits," which I take to mean the bottled water in the kits is Evian.

Speedo, Visa and other companies shelled out big bucks to float their names with Phelps'. Ice-Qube crashed the pool party.

Connect the dots

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